April 5, 2017

DHL Supply Chain to test collaborative robots

"Cobots" to be piloted for life sciences customer.

By DC Velocity Staff

DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said today it will begin testing the use of so-called collaborative robots, designed to work with human warehouse and DC workers, for an unidentified customer in the life sciences sector.

The 10 robots, called "LocusBots" after their creator, Wilmington, Mass.-based Locus Robotics, will be tested as a picker companion for piece-picking order fulfillment in the warehouse, located in Memphis. During the two-month test period, the so-called cobots will identify and transport pick items so DHL Supply Chain's pickers don't have to push carts or carry bins, said the company, which is based in Columbus, Ohio.

"We believe it's critical to identify and implement these types of advanced technology solutions in the warehouse so we can seamlessly improve our customers' supply chains," said Adrian Kumar, vice president of solutions design at DHL Supply Chain North America. The pilot program will "inform the potential for broader deployment across different parts of our business," Kumar said.

During the rollout, DHL Supply Chain said, it will "utilize different picking strategies" with the robots. It will also assess the robots' ability to communicate with the picker and the warehouse management system, how it navigates the warehouse, and its overall versatility, the company said.

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